On November 6, 2004, at 1229 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-18-150, N6854P, collided with the ground on the ramp underneath the wing of a parked Grumman Aircraft G-111, N121F, at Falcon Field Airport (FFZ), Mesa, Arizona. The pilot/owner operated the accident airplane under the provisions of 14 CFR Part 91 as a for hire sightseeing flight. The airplane was destroyed. The airline transport pilot/owner was fatally injured. The passenger was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local area flight, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight was departing at the time of the accident.

The Commemorative Air Force (CAF) was hosting their annual open house/veterans day fly-in, in which the accident pilot and his airplane were participating as part of the static display. During the event it was normal for pilots to offer rides for a fee to bystanders, with a portion of the cumulative fees donated to CAF. A witness reported that the passenger had paid $50.00 for a flight in the accident airplane. The accident flight was the first flight of the day.

A compilation of witnesses observed the airplane takeoff from runway 4L at a steep angle; about 100 feet above the ground the airplane started to turn to the left and the left wing dropped. The airplane turned 180 degrees from its direction of takeoff, in a nose down attitude, and impacted the ground.

Another witness reported that the airplane used about 100 feet of the runway and then was "up pretty quick." It appeared to the witness that the pilot had done a short field takeoff, with a high angle of attack.


A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records revealed that the pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multiengine land, and instrument airplane.

The pilot held a first-class medical certificate issued on September 7, 2004. It had the limitation that the pilot must possess corrective lenses for near vision.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge (IIC) reviewed the pilot's personal logbook. The IIC estimated the pilot's total flight time as 16,295 hours, with 86.7 total flight hours in the accident. The pilot recorded flight time from September 25, 2003, until August 2004, in the accident airplane. There were no recorded flights entered for the accident airplane in the pilot's logbook after August 2004.


The airplane was a Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, serial number 18-7447. A review of the airplane's logbooks revealed the airplane had a total airframe time of 3,767.5 hours at the last annual inspection completed on October 18, 2004.

The engine was a Lycoming O-320-A22/A4M, serial number L14891-36AC. Total time recorded in the engine logbook at the last annual inspection was 492.5 hours, and with 83.8 hours since the major overhaul had been completed.


The closest official weather observation station was Falcon Field, Arizona (FFZ), located at the accident site. An aviation routine weather report (METAR) issued at 1229 reported the following conditions: winds from 130 degrees at 15 knots; visibility 50 statute miles; a scattered cloud layer at 15,000 feet; temperature 84 degrees Fahrenheit; dew point 23 degrees Fahrenheit; altimeter 30.00 inHg.


The Safety Board IIC, and an FAA airworthiness inspector examined the airplane on scene. Witness marks containing wreckage fragments were found embedded in the asphalt ramp about 30 feet from the main wreckage.

The airplane came to rest in a nose down attitude underneath the wing of N121FB on a northerly heading. The forward cockpit and front seat section of the airplane had collapsed onto the engine and nose sections. The tail section had folded over towards the left and was propped up against the wing of the parked airplane.

Rescue personnel removed the right wing to facilitate the removal of the pilot and passenger. The left wing remained attached at the wing root. The entire airplane was located in the wreckage at the accident site.

Investigators established flight control continuity from the rudder pedals to the rudder. The right rudder cable had separated from the rudder horn attach point. Both ends of the rudder cable were unbraided and broomstrawed.

The right wing flap and aileron cables were separated; the cable ends were unbraided and broomstrawed.

The left wing flap and aileron cables were continuous to the cockpit controls.

The propeller exhibited S-bending, leading and trailing edge gouging, and chordwise scratches.


The Maricopa County Office of the Medical Examiner, Phoenix, Arizona, completed an autopsy of the pilot on November 8, 2004.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of specimens from the pilot. Analysis of the specimens contained no findings for carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and tested drugs.


The Safety Board IIC and FAA airworthiness inspector performed detailed examinations of the airframe and engine at Air Transport, Phoenix, Arizona, on November 7, 2004, following recovery of the wreckage from the airport crash location. There were no discrepancies noted with the airframe or engine.

Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsis
Return to Query Page